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February 28 - Mill Valley

The March issue of Latitude 38 will be distributed on Friday, March 2, instead of March 1, due to a massive storm-caused power outage at our printers in Paradise.

Here at our building in Mill Valley, we'll have a planned electrical outage all afternoon today for some major upgrading, so the office will close at noon. Voice mail may or may not work; best bet for getting a message to us is email. See our Contacts page for email links.

- latitude / cw

PV Race Record Falls with a Bang

February 28 - Puerto Vallarta

Magnitude 80 just after arriving in Puerto Vallarta at dawn on Tuesday.
©2007 Del Rey Yacht Club

After more than two decades of trying, it's highly appropriate that when the course record for the Marina del Rey to Puerto Vallarta race fell, it came down with one heck of a bang. Doug Baker's maxi-sled Magnitude 80 crossed the finish line in Banderas Bay on Tuesday morning after lopping more than 31 hours off of the previous race record held by the MacGregor 65 Joss since 1985.

Mag 80's time of 3 days, 15 hours, 51 minutes and 39 seconds on the 1,125-nm course made for an average speed of 12.8 knots. The top wind was 24-25 knots, same as the boat speed. "Not super windy," watch captain Sam Heck said, "but steady." Halfway down Baja they veered due south outside the rhumb [direct] line, but otherwise their tactics were simple. "Three tacks, three jibes," said navigator Ernie Richau, along with a minimal number of sail changes. A reaching asymmetrical spinnaker and a running spinnaker were up most of the way, before a switch to a masthead jib the last few miles.  
"The conditions were great, no doubt about it," Baker said. "Couldn't have asked for anything better, from start to finish. I've been doing this since '81, and I've never had a better year for conditions."

With its only all-out racing competition, Lorenzo Berho's J/145 Raincloud, far back, the Alan Andrews-designed Mag 80 easily swept the race honors: first to finish, first in class, first overall, and of course, the record.

David Janes, whose Scout Spirit started with Mag 80 in Marina del Rey but dismasted and retired from the race just three hours later, greeted Baker and crew in PV. "We want you to know we got here first, anyway," Janes joked. "Congratulations on a great race."
Photos Rich Roberts
©2007 Del Rey Yacht Club

"As far as the record goes, what helped us a lot is that we didn't have to think about any other boats," Baker said. "After Scout Spirit had their problems, we could sail our own race. We didn't have to worry about covering anybody. All we were thinking about was, okay, we gotta get there as fast as we can. That's such a huge thing not burning up time just trying to stay ahead of somebody else. Not to take away from what we did, but that was a factor."

The Salsa fleet, which includes Concord resident David Kory's Barking Spider 3, started its third and last leg Monday and is expected to reach PV today in steady winds. For final results, go to www.pv07.com.

- latitude / ss


Real Lifesavers

February 28 - Dominican Republic

Our good friends Bruce and Janet Smith, aboard their Gig Harbor, WA-based 34-ft strip-planked gaff rigged ketch Woodwind, sent us the following report this morning.

"Yesterday at 20.16 N, 71.50 W - 25 miles north of Haiti - we came upon two souls clinging to a sinking boat. There is a very long story that goes in the middle, but the end of it is that we took them on board and brought them into the town of Monti Cristo in the Dominican Republic. One of the men was badly burned.

"Because of the language gap, we understood that they were two of three people onboard a 22-ft cigarette boat that blew up. Once we got them ashore, we found out they were only two of more than 40 people trying to escape their country, and are the only survivors. They are being well cared for in a hospital, and we hope to go see them today.

"Once again, we had the help of an incredible group of people from the only other cruising boat in this bay, and they, too, are a long story I hope you will someday hear. Yesterday they were in shock. Today, we are."

Bruce and Janet Smith, who left Sausalito in October aboard Woodwind, plucked two refugees from the water near Haiti.
Photo Latitude/LaDonna
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

We hope to have the full story in the April issue of Latitude 38 but, in the meantime, we would like to send Bruce and Janet our kudos and our best wishes to the survivors.

- latitude / ld

Puddle Jumpers Gather for Pre-Crossing Fiesta

February 28 - Nuevo Vallarta

In the sunny latitudes of Mexico, one of the annual rites of spring is the gathering of the Pacific Puddle Jump fleet - that is, those boats which are about to make the 3,000-mile crossing to French Polynesia.

Talk about being at the right place at the right time, this young couple showed up at a Puddle Jump meeting and ended up catching a ride with Bob Bechler of Sisiutl, who's made the trip three times.
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

The No Regrets crew from Santa Cruz are father David, son Patrick and mermaid Carly.
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Gar and Nicole of Dream Keeper left Sausalito to chase their dreams while they're still young and fit.
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

For the past 10 years, Latitude 38 has recognized this bold migration with a reception at Paradise Village Resort and Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. This year's event, held Monday at the Vallarta YC, was unique in that Stephanie Betz of Tahiti Tourisme flew all the way from Tahiti to welcome this lucky bunch of cruisers to her island paradise, and to invite them to participate in two 'fun' regattas this spring and summer: The Tahiti Pearl Regatta, held in May, and the Tahiti Tourisme Cup, a free July event which was designed specifically for Puddle Jumpers. Accompanying Stephanie was Laurent Bernaert of Polynesian Yacht Services who demystified issues such as visa extensions and bond exemptions. (The event was co-hosted by Tahiti Tourisme, Latitude 38, Paradise Village and the Vallarta YC.)

"Come and explore my islands," says Stephanie Betz of Tahiti Tourisme.
Photos Latitude/Andy
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

This year, for the first time, Latitude will also host a reception in Zihuatanejo - also in cooperation with Tahiti Tourisme - at Rick's Bar to honor the contingent of
passage-makers jumping off from Z-Town. Look for a complete report on this year's fleet in upcoming editions of Latitude 38.

- latitude / aet

Current Events

February 28 - Sausalito

Nearly 200 people turned out Saturday to hear local sailing guru Kame Richards talk about taking advantage of the Bay's funky currents to sail faster, win races, or just get home in time for dinner. Richards, owner of Pineapple Sails, is known for his dynamic speaking, good humor, and ability to make complicated topics easy to understand - a well-earned reputation, as it turns out. "Any time we have a chance to hear Kame talk," said San Jose-based attendee Sylvia Seaberg, "we jump on it."

Kame Richards stands high atop Angel Island while explaining just how the tides and currents can be used to your advantage.
Photo Latitude/LaDonna
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Richards will be giving his wildly popular - and highly informative - presentation at the Bay Model again on March 20, but, according to organizers, that talk is already sold out. They're hoping to add another date in May, but nothing has been confirmed. We'll announce future dates here on 'Lectronic, so keep checking back.

- latitude / ld

America's Cup on TV

February 28 - Valencia, Spain

You may recall that the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) featured some pretty good TV coverage of the last America's Cup series. We're happy to learn that they are doing it again under their new name, Versus (VS). The beginning coverage will feature a three-part 'Countdown to the America's Cup series'. Unfortunately, the first one aired on February 22. But the next two are March 18 and 21, so set your Blackberries.

Next in the lineup is 'Cup Dates', which are highlights of the Round-Robin portion of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the Challenger elimination series. These start in mid-April with Round 1, and run through Round 2 in early May.

The good stuff begins on May 14 when VS begins live coverage of the semi-final and final rounds. These 2.5-hour programs will air at 11 a.m. EST, with replays at 12 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Similar coverage will air for the actual best-of-nine America's Cup match races beginning on June 23.

In addition to the TV coverage, Versus.com plans to provide 24-hour access to race information beginning with Louis Vuitton Challenger Series on April 16. The site will have video clips, daily reports, insider information and so on. Combined that with the official America's Cup site, Web sites for each of the 11 Challengers, one for the Defender and about 50 other unofficial sites - and it's entirely possible that someone who's really into this stuff can know more about the America's Cup than the people who are actually sailing in it.

For more information and dates, log onto www.versus.com.

- latitude / jr

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©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.